Theaters in Mississippi start opening up


Illustration by Erin Collins.

After months of closures due to COVID-19, theatres in Mississippi have started to open back up. In Gulfport, two theaters were brought back into operation, with Cinemark 16 reopened on Aug. 25 and The Grand Theatre reopened on Aug. 28. Both companies have implemented precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Grand Theatre teamed up with CinemaSafe, a program that promotes protocols and guidelines supported by leading epidemiologists so movie theaters can operate safely. 

Information about The Grand’s precautions relating to COVID-19 can be found by going to the health info tab on their website. Most of the changes revolve around state mandates and physical distancing guidelines. Guests to The Grand must wear a mask in all common areas, including in the lobby, concession stand area, corridors and restrooms. Employees at The Grand are also required to wear facial coverings and gloves during their shifts and continue to frequently wash their hands.

Guests may take off their masks once they are seated in the theatre in order to eat and drink, as social distancing will be enforced by the ticketing system and auditorium capacity limits. The ticket system will allow groups of guests who order tickets at the same time to sit together, but will otherwise force a two-seat gap on either side of the guest. The Grand is also not accepting paper cash at the concession stand. Guests can exchange paper cash at Guest Services for a gift card if the guest does not have a credit or debit card for payment. 

Guests can pre-order both tickets and concessions for pickup at a designated area of the concession stand to create a fully touchless theatre experience. 

Cinemark 16 also teamed up with CinemaSafe to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The overall auditorium capacity at Cinemark 16 is being reduced for safety and to comply with state guidelines. Seats adjacent to the guest will be blocked and tickets for those seats will be unavailable. 

Showtimes are also being staggered to allow more time for guests to exit and prevent overcrowding in the theater’s restrooms, halls and lobbies. Guests are encouraged to purchase tickets online, with it no longer being required for the guest to carry a printed ticket to go watch their film. 

Tickets can still be purchased at the box office, but guests will no longer need to hand the ticket to ushers. Instead, it only needs to be shown to the usher to correctly direct the user to their section.

Both of these theaters are taking extra precautions to clean the area and make sure it is safe for guests. Concession and kitchen areas are being sanitized frequently. Guests are also asked to practice physical distancing when in line for concessions and as they walk through the halls.
The movies currently being shown at both theaters range from new releases to old classics, allowing guests to choose from a wide range of options. Visiting either or  will show what movies are being shown and at what times.